Monthly Archives: July 2014

People of Norn’ Ir’n

I’m sure many of you have heard my daughter Hannah’s announcement concerning her relocating to the states in October to pursue her musical dreams. This is extra exciting news for me because Hannah and I will finally have the opportunity to record, tour, and hopefully write together. We’ve done some playing together, but not really together-together if you know what I mean. It’s pretty cool to be a dad who’s kid actually wants to be seen and heard playing music with her dad, but then again, she’s a pretty cool kid! We will have a new website and Facebook page soon to explain what we have planned. Watch for details in the coming weeks. We’re going to kick off this new journey together with a 2 to 3 week tour of Ireland/UK in October. We’re still working on booking that, but will post dates soon. This leads me into the main point of todays post…

While setting up this tour I have been lucky enough to reconnect with some good friends from Ireland-some of whom I had almost completely lost touch. It’s been fun reconnecting. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of my Irish musician friends had become hugely successful on this side of the pond. A lot of these people really helped and encouraged me along my way. They gave me gigs, shared the stage, helped me make contacts and bought me more than a few pints. They loaned me stuff, covered for me when I was sick, donated studio time and most importantly they shared their talent and inspiration. In return for all this kindness I’d like to highlight some of these beautiful people and help send some love their way. So please, read this blog and then go check these people out…

Foy Vance
I first met Foy when he came to play a gig for our class at Bangor Tech. It wasn’t really a gig; more an opportunity to try our chops at running sound and lights for a real artist. Foy opened his set with one of my favorite songs, ‘Fortress Around Your Heart’ by Sting. I’ll never forget Foy’s amazing acoustic arrangement and that incredibly powerful voice of his. We became good friends, shared some gigs, made some coffee (to be fair-he made all of the coffee), shared some great stories and a boat load of laughs. Since then Foy has toured and recorded with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Ed Sheeran (to name only a few). It was a delight to catch up with Foy on his current US tour with South Carolina rockers ‘needtobreathe’. Foy is currently touring the US to promote his incredibly beautiful album ‘The Joy of Nothing’ (Glassnote Records). Check out Foy’s website and absolutely go see him live. You’ll be blown away!
http://www.foyvance.com/

Susan Enan
I first met the angelic Susan Enan when she appeared at my open mic at Belfast’s Auntie Annie’s Pub (Too many years ago to mention). She was so quiet and reserved I was afraid that people would talk over her set, but she had quite the opposite effect on a crowd. You could hear a pin drop every time she’d sing. She was quiet as a mouse, but yet somehow, incredibly powerful. Her music is beautiful and truly timeless. We shared the stage a few times before I left to follow my dreams back in the US. I’d lost touch with Susan until recently finding her on Facebook. To my delight and surprise I found that Susan had relocated to Brooklyn and was still actively pursuing her recording career. Susan’s beautiful song ‘Bring on the Wonder’ was featured on an episode of Bones and later included on the Bones soundtrack release. None other than Sarah McLachlan then recorded the tune. McLachlan’s included the tune on her 7th studio album ‘Laws of Illusion’. Susan has traveled the world playing house concerts from Ireland and UK to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and even as far as Alaska and the Arctic Circle. She has beautifully documented her journey in a short film that can be viewed on her website. Check it out at:
http://www.susanenan.com

Ben Reel
Ben Reel was a well known local artist when I broke into the Belfast music scene in the late 90’s. I didn’t know Ben very well, but he was instrumental in helping me get some of my first gigs in those early days. It was mostly cover songs for the two of us back then, but we developed a mutual appreciation and would often fill in for each other when we had been double booked. Sadly Ben and I lost touch after I relocated to the states in 2001. When I moved to Nashville in 2010, I was delighted to find that Ben was splitting his time between Ireland and Nashville and was doing extremely well in both lands. Ben has been busy since those early Belfast days. He has released 6 studio albums and toured with the likes of Tommy Womack, Jools Holland, Alabama 3 and The Cranberries. Ben has a great down home Americana sensibility that leans heavily towards old school country. Check him out at:
http://www.benreel.com

Nathan Connolly
I’m pretty sure I met Nathan while doing sound for his band F.U.E.L. at Katy Daly’s bar in Belfast. I jibed him about the likelihood of future back problems from slinging his guitar so low. We later became good friends and classmates in the music program at Bangor Tech. We would often kill time teaching each other Alice in Chains songs between classes. Since then Nathan has gone on to sell over 11 million albums with Snow Patrol and has recently launched a brand new album with his own band ‘Little Matador’. I was able to reconnect with Nathan recently at a Snow Patrol show at Utah Valley University where we had a long chat over a few beers before the show. I’m delighted to say that fame and fortune hasn’t changed him a bit. He’s still that same lanky guitar slinging kid I knew back in college. One of the nicest blokes I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Good on ya’ Nathan. Can’t wait to see the new band live. I hope you’ll be around the UK in October.
Check out Nathan’s new project here:
http://littlematadorband.com/

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It’s all coming together now! (New album update)

Debut Show with New Band

We formally debuted the band last Thursday at Tempe Tavern in Tempe, Arizona and I think it went over extremely well. We had a great turnout and the crowd seemed to be digging it. To be honest, this band was set up with the express purpose of recording the album; playing shows wasn’t really in the cards. However, after just a few rehearsals, things were coming together so well and we were all having so much fun that Jim, our drummer, piped up and said “man, we should play a few shows”. I told our friend Carol Pacey (Carol Pacey and the Honeyshakers) about our plan and the next thing I knew we were booked for a show with local Americana extraordinaire D.L Marble. We all had a blast and I am certain that more full band shows will happen in the future. In the meantime each rehearsal finds us one step closer to getting in the studio. A few more rehearsals and I think we’ll be ready.

So Who’s in the Band?

Honestly, the guys in this band have taken these folky little songs of mine to places I would never dare go by myself (and couldn’t go if I tried). We’ve toyed with the idea of coming up with an actual band name; these guys certainly deserve to be referred to as more than just “The Mikael Lewis Band”. The trouble is, who knows when I’ll be able to afford to take a band on the road? Would these guys be dumb enough to quit their jobs and hit the road with me anyway? I doubt that. I don’t think the idea of living in a van with me would be too appealing? Maybe Steve would do it- he’s young and might not know any better. Steve actually came up with the idea of a rotating cast of band names such as “Mikael Lewis and the Irreplaceables” and “Mikael Lewis and the Programmers of Doom” (what-too progressive?). At least I wouldn’t have to try and build another freakn’ website (Phew!). We’ll see what happens.  Anywho, this amazing band includes (in the order that they joined): the ambidextrous James Thorpe (Instant Hobo) on drums, the irreplaceable Jeff Goeslin (Funk n Chaos) on bass, Steven “the atmosphere master” Duncan (Programming Hiro) on guitar, and little ol’ me on vocals and acoustic guitar (and maybe dad’s lapsteel-once I figure out how to control the damned thing!) If these guys aren’t tired of me once the recording is through, maybe they’ll play local shows with me whenever I’m in town? I certainly hope so.

So What’s in a Name?

While compiling a list of the songs I wanted to include on the album, I’d noticed a common theme. Apparently there are lots of thoughts in my little head that deal with acquiring knowledge and seeking enlightenment or looking at things in a different light (There were a lot of camping songs too, which is fitting because how much closer can you get to divinity than when you’re out in the woods?). Coincidentally, my wonderful photographer sister, Marilyn Budge, had sent me some of her artwork that, unbeknownst to her, fit perfectly with the “Different Light” theme. She has graciously agreed to donate her artwork for this project. (I really can’t wait for you folks to see it-it’s sooo cool!). The album/songs theme will probably be mistaken for religiosity, but I think it has more to do with the search for our lost humanity (which, incidentally, can probably only be found in the woods). Anyhow, based on the ideas of this recurring theme, the album will be entitled “A Different Light”. The songs picked for inclusion are ones I’d written years ago, alongside ones I’ve just recently written. This album will cover the gamut of sounds that have influenced the band and myself. These sounds include everything from folksy tribal drones to progressive rock inflections to funky sing-alongs, with a few stops in between. Hopefully it will inspire us all to see things in a different light? (You see what I did there, right? nyuk, nyuk.)

Enough already! 😉

This post has ended up being twice as long as I’d intended (Oops), thank you for indulging me. Hopefully this album will be finished in just a little more than a month from now. I may post a few teaser sound clips as things progress (But then again I might just make you wait). Watch the website and Facebook page for updates.

In the meantime come catch Steve and I as as we warm up the stage for the amazing Cory Mon up in Big Water, UT next Saturday (July 26th). (Great music, great friends and the great outdoors…what else could you possible ask for?) See the calendar for details.

See ya’ll down the road…

Mikael

 

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